Posts Tagged ‘leopoldo lopez’

A View Of The New Venezuelan Primary Field: From Six To Two, If Not Just One

January 28, 2012

I apologize for being absent since Monday, but things got complicated after the debate on Monday, stopping me from blogging until now. Not that I did not want to. After Leopoldo Lopez’ withdrawal and endorsement of Henrique Capriles, I actually had to, but perhaps it was better this way, as I was able to be surprised by the diverse reactions to the political maneuver, many of which were surprisingly negative.

I found Lopez’ decision to be a good political move, typical of a primary process. Lopez had clearly not gained much in the polls since joining the race, in fact some polls suggest he had lost ground and politically it was risky for him personally to perform badly, obtaining even less than ten percent of the vote. There is no question that Lopez’ legal case remains an anvil hanging from his neck. Too many people that I talked to believed it too risky for him to run and win, only to be banned from taking office. I have always disagreed with this, believing that a victory by Lopez in the Presidential race guaranteed that he would take office. Nevertheless, this fairly widespread belief, combined with Lopez’ poor campaigning in the initial stages of the race, simply did not allow him to gain ground.

Lopez could have simply stayed out, rather than join Capriles. This is something that some Lopez supporters find infuriating, they somehow find it insulting that Lopez can think that their votes can simply be endorsed to Capriles on Lopez’ say so. Of course they can’t, but that is what primaries are all about. Lopez wanted to make a statement and stay visible, but Lopez also needed a lifeline for his Voluntad Popular party, which requires funding for its candidates in the regional race and for its nationwide network. Lopez’ withdrawal would make it hard to have a continuos flow of funding that would surely go to the other candidates in the race. The move guarantees this funding.

And while it is clear after listening to so many people gripe about the endorsement that not all of Lopez’ votes will go to Capriles, it is also clear in my mind that a good fraction of them will, which added to the apparent strong support for Capriles, should push him over the very magic, and desirable, fifty percent number and seal the fate of the election.

And in that, the move is politically masterful. Two, new generation, persecuted politicians, have put the nail in the coffin of the Cuarta Republica, represented by the traditional political parties and politicians that back Un Nuevo Tiempo’s candidate Pablo Perez. Not that these parties will go away, but a loss by Perez in February, will do away with some of the encroached traditional politicians used to manipulating everything in smoke filled rooms.

In that sense, the move is not only brilliant, but if it works, it will be historical and will become when the sixth or a potential sixth, killed the fourth.

And clearly, if Leopoldo was going to support someone, it had to be Capriles, he could not back any of the others, including Maria Corina Machado, who so far has shown less progress in gaining support than Lopez, even if we don’t have any numbers after her “To Expropriate is to rob” statement. And even if she did, she still does not have a national structure to get out the vote on primary day.

Which is in a sense, Lopez’ biggest contribution to the Capriles campaign: combining both structures to insure that Pablo Perez does not win simply because Un Nuevo Tiempo and Accion Democratica managed to use their political machinery to get out of the vote. And Lopez’ Voluntad Popular has even a far wider presence (in geographical extension, not in size) than Capriles’ around the country, which in my opinion reinforces Primero Justicia’s well and contains the possibility of a Pablo Perez surprise.

Hopefully, the resentment over the move will be forgotten by the time February 12th. comes around and the other parties remain united in the Presidential race.

As to the possibility that Maria Corina Machado will mount a surprising and last minute surge, I just don’t buy it. That is simply wishful think by people who live in Caracas and who in their hearts have always viewed MCM with sympathy, but felt that she had no chance until she started confronting Chavez. I did  not see any evidence that this has changed, even if some tried to change my mind on the subject.

To me, primaries have done their job at this stage. Clearly, given the negative reactions to the news of Lopez’ endorsement of Capriles, people still have to experience a few primaries to understand why the dynamics help promote and decant the candidates, while giving them additional exposure. With Lopez’ withdrawal the field narrows and in my opinion, it just went from six to two, if not just one.


The Devil Live At The Globovision Debate, But Technology Did Not Cooperate

January 23, 2012

Thanks to Leopoldo Lopez campaign group, who thought blog coverage of the debate would be useful and thanks to Daniel including me in the plan, I was able to be at the Globovision debate tonight live. Unfortunately, Digitel failed to cooperate and the organizers failed to provide the required technology, despite the fact that at the Universidad Metropolitana, where the debate took place, there were plenty of wi-fi networks available.

The debate was structured around questions and then candidates could come back and say how they disagreed with answers or how they would do things differently. It would be meaningless for me to do a blow by blow of the debate, even if I do have the notes. Instead, I will give a summary of how I saw it and will comment at the end on Leopoldo Lopez’ hinting that he and Capriles will be joining forces.

First, the biggest loser in my mind was Pablo Perez. The Zulia Governor was certainly not very impressive, with meandering arguments and very general, vapor filled arguments that meant very little. He may have the party machinery, he may have the funding, but he was absolutely unimpressive, so much so, that Pablo Medina looked his equal and I don’t even plan to talk about what Medina said or did not say.

The most impressive, edging Leopoldo Lopez, was Maria Corina Machado. She had many arguments and specifics that I appreciated. While I don’t buy the “Capitalismo Popular” simplicity, she did show that she understands the economics and the vision of what is necessary to make a country click. I particularly liked how she affirmed that as President she would have the tools needed to rescue the judicial system from the Chavistas. She did not answer the last question properly, the moderator asked each candidate to say what they would say at the end of their term, while she said all the things she would do. But then she mentioned in that list, returning expropriated properties to their rightful owners, kicking Cuban military out of the country, freeing political prisoners and eliminating cadenas. Wrong answer to the question, but good answers. The lack of a nationwide structure will stop her from doing well, but she has certainly been impressive the last few weeks.

Diego Arria was consistent in his program and what he has said all along, that he only wants three years, that a Constituent Assembly is needed and this is not  a “normal” situation. He has done a good job in making his points and he will not go much beyond here, but he ran to make these points. Kudos to him for being the only one to differentiate the problem of the rural worker from those of the city worker.

I just did not like Henrique Capriles. He was vague. I did not get a felling he has vision or understanding of what makes a country grow and work. He is the front runner, but maybe I don’t get him for the same reasons I don’t get Chavismo, I just don’t know what he is about. He can tell me many times what he did in Miranda. But being President is more than about servicing people and solving current problems, you have to look way down the line, He did not mention one concrete or semi-concrete proposal to that effect.

To me Leopoldo Lopez was second to Maria Corina. I would have liked his summary question to have more punch, even if his answer was the most realistic, saying that he had partially solved problems in six years in office. But overall, he showed that he understands economic terms as well as Maria Corina, the two candidates that showed some economic and visionary concepts (Diego Arria did not even try to go there). I also like Lopez’ emphasis on making things in Venezuela, so as to eventually become an exporting country.

Leopoldo did throw a curveball at the end by suggesting that he and Henrique Capriles would somehow join forces in ways  yet to be announced. We will have to wait and see what the announcement is. Clearly, if Lopez is not going to do well, it makes sense to withdraw. And if he gives his support for Capriles, he will not only be showing his inclination for supporting unity, but also that he is willing to sacrifice in a classy way to make something happen. He has to be given credit for that. Even if he just withdraws, giving up for the common good is uncommon in Venezuelan politics. This is not a moment for selfish politics, too much is at stake.

A very interesting experience, Daniel was able to tweet live, even if I could not blog, but cool to feel the politics up close. I will tell you who I will vote for before the primary, but no matter who wins now, I will vote in October for the opposition candidate.